PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Temple University is offering free COVID-19 testing this week to students before they travel home for Thanksgiving break. On Friday, Philadelphia reported a record number of COVID-19 infections, surpassing 1,100 in a single day.
The testing started Monday and runs through Friday, the last day for all in-person classes. Though the vast majority of classes are virtual, many students have still opted to stay on campus this semester.
“We want to do it for our students, absolutely,” said Ray Betzner, Temple University’s assistant vice president of university communications. “We’re very concerned about their safety. We want to do it for their families.”
The testing is being conducted inside Mitten Hall. Students must make an appointment through Temple’s student health website. Once tested, they will receive their results in 24 hours.
“If I am positive, I won’t be going home, so I wanted to get tested as soon as possible so that I could arrange my plans accordingly,” said Maria Buxton, a senior from Springfield, Massachusetts.
”It’s really uncomfortable with the nose swab. I think it’s an effective way to test and I’ll do it if it means I can keep my family more safe at home,” said Sara Morrison, a junior from Delaware County.
The university has two vacant residence halls set aside for students to isolate if they cannot do so where they currently live. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday that all colleges and students would be wise to follow Temple’s example.
”There is a considerable risk for communities as students leave their colleges and go home, and we do recommend that they get tested before they go home,” she said.
Betzner said, so far, contact tracing has shown that Temple has no reported cases of COVID spreading from a student to a surrounding North Philadelphia resident. The hope is that this testing can also help prevent any spread to students’ home communities, but it is still up to students to take precautions.
“The test is a valuable tool, but it’s really their behavior that has the greatest impact on the level of risk that they may represent to their families,” Betzner said.
Penn State and Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey are also offering students the option to be tested before they go home for Thanksgiving and a place to stay on campus if they do test positive.
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